First attempt at star trails.

Discussion in 'Nature & Wildlife' started by eric-holmes, Nov 11, 2009.

  1. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I ran into a few problems. How do you guys find a focus point? It was so dark I just had to guess. I only ran this picture for about 20 minutes (can't remember). It seems like the noise is terrible. I had long exposure NR turned on. What kind of settings do you guys use?

    [​IMG]

    18mm
    f/22
    ISO 400
     
  2. PhotoXopher

    PhotoXopher TPF Noob!

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    Infinity.

    You can also do multiple shorter bursts instead of one long one (five 4 minute exposures vs one 20 minute exposure) and stack them.
     
  3. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I've never done a star trails pic, but I do know that a lot of people take shorter exposures and then stack them to avoid the noise. Also, you could turn your ISO setting down to 100 and open the aperture up to about f8 for better results. I don't know what to tell you on the focus thing other than that I would just put it on manual focus and focus to infinity.

    Also, maybe it's just me, but I like a wider angle on star trail shots.
     
  4. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thanks, I am going to try it again tonight. I don't currently have a program that will stack images but I will be getting one soon hopefully.
     
  5. robertwsimpson

    robertwsimpson No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Make sure you use ISO 100. You'll be shocked at how much less noise there is.
     
  6. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yea, I assumed that ISO 400 would be low enough. But we all know what assuming does.
     
  7. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    So I am kind of an impatient person. I currently have my camera up on the roof taking a picture and it is killing me having to wait. Gah!
     
  8. eric-holmes

    eric-holmes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Attempt number 2.

    The stars were a little dark here. I think I will point towards the west, away from the fading sun.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. ErectedGryphon

    ErectedGryphon TPF Noob!

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    Doesn't the sun set in the west?

    Point north or south, star trails are more interesting if they are curved. And add some foreground, don't point the camera straight up.
     
  10. molested_cow

    molested_cow No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Star trail shots are addictive. I always make time to take them when opportunity arises.

    For me, just a photo of star trails without landscape or any other subject in the photo is boring, so I always make an effort to capture the landscape as well. That said, things get complicated really quickly. First of all, what time of the night and which direction you are shooting matters. I've shot a photo on at 6000ft in the mountain top, 2 hours after the sun set at west, exposing for 30min. The result is a sunset looking horizon with star trails in the sky closer to me. It's totally unexpected, but really fun. Plus, I shoot 35mm, so there's no way to find out until I get my negatives back and run them through the scanner.

    You may also want to think about how to light the subjects in the photo. I've used the tail lamp of a car to light up a tree while letting the stars spin in the background. I've also happened to be on the other side of the full moon which lit the light house tower for me with stars in the background. You can either plan for it, or you can just do it and see what happens.

    Using film on long exposure may not have overheating sensor problem of DSLRs, but film also becomes grainy after some time. I don't really know how it works yet. Stacking won't work very well for me. There are too many variables for me. First, alignment of the negative between frames may not be precised. Secondly, alignment of negatives on the scanner has pretty bad tolerances. Plus, I just like to see what light accumulates in the sky beyond just the stars, so I'd rather do it all on one frame.


    Oh, I read that the different color of the stars indicate different temperature at which they are burning.
     

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